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Shambhala Sun | March 2014

When I Enter the City of Joy

In war-torn Congo, EVE ENSLER learns what love can really do

I do not know how to end the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I don’t know where governments end and corporations begin. I cannot show you exactly how the mining of the coltan that is in your cellphone is linked to Jeanne being raped in her village. I don’t know how to move the UN Security Council, or the secretary-general, or the European, British, or Canadian Parliament, or Congress or Downing Street or the White House. I have made impassioned visits to all these places and have left each time, crushed and bewildered. I do not know how to arrest the war criminals or the corporate exploiters.

I do know that the minute I enter the City of Joy everything seems possible. It is green and clean. It is the lotus rising from the mud. It is the metaphor for a new beginning, for building a new world.

Three of the ten principles governing the City of Joy are (a) tell the truth, (b) stop waiting to be rescued, and (c) give away what you want the most.

In the City of Joy I know how to do things: how to hug Telusia, Jeanne, and Prudence, and how to remind them not to turn their gaze away because the shame they carry is not their own. I know how to listen and how to keep asking questions.

I know how to cry and that if I love the women of the Congo, and I don’t close off my heart, that love will cut a path, a plan will be revealed, and I will find the money and everything that is necessary. Because love does that.


From In the Body of the World: A Memoir, by Eve Ensler. © 2013 Eve Ensler. Reprinted with permission of Random House Canada.

From the March 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine. To see what else is in this issue, click here.

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